U LVA is a restaurant with traditional Georgian and Czech values and standards, offering guests a new, varied variation of old dishes and premium quality craft beer in a friendly, comfortable, homely, and sophisticated environment. Ulva is a second home for the restaurant staff, so a cohesive and friendly team works together to achieve common success. We talked to its co-founder Tamar Gilashvili to find out more.
“The idea of establishing Ulva first came to my partner, Zdenek Radil, a Czech beer expert and lover, who wanted to develop and popularize the still less common craft beer in Georgia,” she says. “My co-founder has 20 years of experience in the beer industry and came to Georgia to run a brewery. After that, he decided to independently develop his own beer line, share his experience with Georgians, and open his own restaurant to sell his own beer.
“In Vake, the first branch of Ulva on Abashidze Street was initially pub-style and offered guests traditional Czech dishes. Later, the restaurant concept was changed, the Zdenek Craft Beer Collection was added, and it was transformed into a steakhouse. In Saburtalo, we decided to create a second branch on Tsintsadze Street due to the demand of the segment, because the public really wanted to order khinkali in one space along with premium quality beer.
Why did you choose the name Ulva?
Ulva means “lion” in Czech. The lion is an important figure in Georgian and Czech culture, a symbol of the Czech coat of arms, and is also found in Georgian literature and proverbs. The lion is traditionally a sign of strength, while in us it evokes the association of happiness.
What features and advantages distinguish Ulva from other restaurants?
Ulva is distinguished by a unique, high-quality collection of 6 types of craft beers made from imported hops and malt. Our restaurant differs from the competitors with a special concept, because we offer guests a tasteful tandem of Georgian and European standards. We took the bases of traditional Georgian dishes, approached them from a gastronomic-creative point of view, and turned them into modern and very diverse variations. For example, in Ulva, you will meet traditional Mtiuluri and urban khinkali, as well as beans and mushroom khinkali, which are less common on the market. In addition, Ulva prepares a delicious Ojakhuri, which is not only associated with bouilli pork and potatoes, as the flavorful sour sauce comes with it.
Tell us about dishes that one should try at Ulva.
When visiting Ulva, one should definitely try Georgian khinkali with Apkhazura sauce, smoked tomato soup, mushroom and spinach pies, Czech traditional Svickova, and Koleno. We have added to Koleno a traditional Georgian feature, the meat for this dish is boiled in premium quality beer, but instead of the oven, it is cooked on the grill, the amazing aroma of which gives the meat more tenderness and variety.
When preparing khinkali with cheese, we mix 4 types of Georgian cheese, which is accompanied by a tasty sauce. In order to prepare Apkhazura, Ulva is supplied with fresh, high-quality pork and beef every day. This dish is served with an appropriate sauce, which perfectly separates the quality of the meat and greatly diversifies the whole dish.
Tell us about your menu.
Our menu is varied. For drinks, we serve wine, vodka, and Czech beer. One of the main values of Ulva is constant quality control. We explain to each guest what the difference is between craft beer and pasteurized beer. In addition, we constantly provide customers with seasonal novelties. Our chef also prepares special orders.
Tell us about the Ulva staff.
Ulva has a very qualified team of cohesive and friendly staff.
We think a class hierarchy would prevent us from achieving success, so we constantly strive to make the work environment a cozy, comfortable, loyal, and warm place. Ulva is not just a job for the restaurant team- it has even become a second home for us, so we all take care of its development together to offer guests traditional Georgian standards along with a comfortable and homely environment. We often have healthy arguments too, but we always take each other’s remarks into account.
Describe the design, style, and interior of your restaurant.
We tried to bring out the interior of the Czech beer restaurant at Ulva, so it mainly combines wood, brick, and stone. The restaurant space is divided into two floors, the first part is a daily environment for unscheduled meetings and lunches. And the second floor is of minimalist design, lounge-type and is suitable for birthdays and different types of celebrations. An aquarium makes Ulva’s interior unique, which is much loved by our younger guests. In addition, we have a grill in the interior of the restaurant so that guests can watch how their dishes are made. The bar at the entrance combines imported beer, while the indoor bar offers guests a craft beer made by my partner, Zdenek Radil.
Who loves Ulva most?
The menu of our restaurant is very diverse and is not designed for a specific type of person. Ulva mainly unites beer lovers and people interested in new tastes.
Tell us about your future plans.
My partner Zdenek prepares beer using his own recipe in contractor microbreweries. However, we have already started building our own brewery in Sagarejo, near my vineyard. Our brewery will of course also have a small tasting area where people will be able to taste freshly brewed beer. In the future, we plan to add another branch of Ulva in the city, at the same time we are going to go beyond the borders of Georgia.